A Seltzer Journey around the Mid-South
OK, first things first—I don’t actually hate beer. Or gluten. Or really anything about our beloved Memphis brewery scene. So if you were getting ready to scroll past this article in the name of remaining a true-blue brew believer, I’ll ask you to give it another minute.
I recently took a seltzer journey around the Mid-South—and what I learned was pretty refreshing. Just like we’ve done with beers for so long, Memphians are putting our own twist on some new beverage territory, and it’s a thrill to taste the creative drinks my fellow Memphians have concocted.
Here are a few of my big takeaways from this wild, bubbly ride. First, no two Memphis seltzers are alike, which is why you should be emboldened to go forth and give them all a try. Second, non-hops options at breweries are growing, as are their fans.
For those of you who actually do hate beer, avoid gluten, or are just ready for something new? These seltzers and other creative drinks are for you.
The hard seltzer market started making strides in the United States in 2018 and has sprinted forward in the years since. With a hard option for almost every established cold beverage—kombucha, iced tea, ginger beer, etc.—it was only a matter of time before Memphis brewers would join in the fun. FUN also happens to be the name of the first-ever hard seltzer crafted in Memphis—by Memphis Made Brewing Company in the summer of 2020. Since then, five more local breweries have crafted their own non-beer beverages, many with a variety of flavors, and all with completely unique takes.
Let’s dive into the details on where to find non-beer options in Memphis.
Crosstown Brewing Company
RAD! Hard Seltzers
Crosstown has never shied away from bold flavor combos, and true to form, their RAD! hard seltzers are likely the most unique flavor pairings available in Memphis. Cucumber Lime has a light, savory, and refreshing feeling, and Strawberry Lavender is slightly sweeter with just the right amount of floral. They’re available at Joe’s Wines & Liquor and at several grocery stores.
Grind City Brewing Company
Viva Honey Seltzers & Memphis-Style Hard Seltzers
If you want seltzer variety, Grind City is the place to go. With their recent release of Viva honey seltzers, you’ll find four flavors—original, peach, orange creamsicle, and lemon/lime. They’re lightly sweetened, with hops included for a more beer-like flavor while staying gluten-free. Grind City has also released four assorted Memphis-style hard seltzers that are inspired by cocktails. Try out the Gin and Juice, Memphis Mule, I’m in Love with the Coco, and Lemon Squeezy. You’ll find them at the brewery and in stores around town. The last two flavors also appear in frozen cocktails on the weekends at the brewery!
Meddlesome Brewing Company
Stupid Good Hard Seltzers
Stupid Good—a really good name for a really good trio of seltzers. Stupid Good hard seltzers are sweet and fruity. They’re almost reminiscent of some national brands, but their clever flavor combinations make them absolutely exceptional: Huckleberry Lemonade, Strawberry Kiwi, and Orange Passion Fruit Guava. Find them all at Meddlesome’s Cordova location, with the Huckleberry Lemonade on tap. These go down easy.
Memphis Made Brewing Company
Fruit Snacks Hard Seltzers
Memphis Made is the OG seltzer maker in the 901, releasing FUN, a lime-flavored hard seltzer, in the summer of 2020. It’s been a favorite since then, both on tap at their Cooper Street location and in groceries and liquor stores around town. This fall Memphis Made is rebranding FUN as Fruit Snacks, with new fun flavors.
Wiseacre Brewing Company
The Set Up Cocktails
Leave it to Wiseacre to just totally go their own way with this whole fizzy, non-beer alcohol thing. They’ve created The Set Up—a light, refreshing, delicious trio of cocktails in a can. We’re talking vodka soda with grapefruit and pineapple, gin and soda with lime, and a whiskey highball with lemon. Find these liquored beverages on tap at the original Wiseacre location on Broad Avenue and in select stores around town.
Special Shoutout: Ghost River Brewing Company
In the last year, Ghost River has been making all kinds of moves, including a new space on Beale. The Beale Street location has a full bar, frozen cocktails, and two seltzers on tap, while you’ll find one seltzer on tap at South Main. Summer seltzer favorites included Throw Me A Lifelime and South Main-go—both classically delicious. Visit often; each seltzer flavor is available for a limited time before new ones rotate in.
Jordan Arellano is a writer, dog mom, and Memphis transplant who has called the 901 home for the last five years. Her background is in nonprofit and social media, and she now works in marketing. When she isn’t reading, writing, or pandemic stress-baking, she travels as often as possible and eats all the vegetarian fare Memphis has to offer. @are.jordan